The Shoestring Diaries: How to Save Money for Travel

They say that travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

I find more and more these days that my social media feeds are practically bursting at the seems with friends and bloggers (ahem…) posting pictures, videos and reviews of some of the, quite frankly, annoyingly spectacular, places they have visited. It’s enough to make anyone sigh with dreamy desire before throwing their laptop into the sea and returning to their beige cubicle to serve their capitalist lizard overlords (sorry, Che).

Social Media Class
Social Media Class: Photo by mkymarketing

With that in mind I thought I might offer a few ideas as to how you can scrape together enough rusty pennies and buttons for you to finally get yourself on that plane and a couple more on how to budget in order to get the most bang for your buck so that you can get uploading pictures of hot dog legs on the beach to Instagram and make your friends jealous. And let’s face it, that’s basically the only reason anyone has ever gone travelling. Ever.

Hot Day Beach
Hot Day on the Beach: Photo on Flickr by Edward Zulawski / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

So, first of all, before even thinking about how you’re going to approach saving up for a trip you need to take a good long think about what you’re going to get out of it.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to travel in the past you’ll generally find that most of your best memories, life lessons and friends came from such adventures. Now you have that fresh in your mind, compare all of that to the stuff you can do without that you fork money out on every month. They slowly start the pale in comparison- and you’re going to need that motivation when you’re trying to decide between branded baked beans and nondescript, predominantly wood-based, supermarket basic brand beans.

How to Save Money for Travel: Baked Beans
Mmm….. Baked Beans: Photo on Flickr by jeffreyw / CC BY 2.0

How to Save Money for Travel

In all seriousness you’d really be surprised how much little savings add up to over the course of a year.

Here’s a short list of things you need to stop doing:

  1. Smoking
  2. Eating out more than once a week
  3. Sky/Cable/TV packages
  4. Not planning your food shop (plan out your meals for the week and buy accordingly!)
  5. Buying coffee every morning
  6. Driving everywhere

It doesn’t seem that scary when you see it written down but when you’re half way on a 4km walk to the supermarket, realising you forgot your shopping list, want a cigarette and you can’t even watch the Kardashian family jabber incomprehensibly to each other on TV when you get back, it damn well will do. Just think of all the hot dog leg pictures you’re going to take -breathe- and push through the pain.

Stop Smoking
Stop Smoking: Photo on Flickr by MattysFlicks / CC BY 2.0

It might seem obvious as well, but now is the time to get internet banking if you don’t already in order to keep track of everything you’re spending. Set aside a reasonable amount each month to save and budget how you’re going to live with the rest. It takes less than 5 minutes to sit down with a pen and paper and write this stuff out. You’ll thank yourself when you’re sipping Caipirinhas on Ipanema beach. It’s also a good idea to put you’re money into an ISA or savings account and get that little bit extra interest each month.

Relaxing on Ipanema Beach Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Relaxing on Ipanema Beach: Photo on Flickr by Jimmy Baikovicius / CC BY-SA 2.0

If you manage to do all this once you’re out there saving money where you can becomes relatively easier.

My best tip for saving money whilst travelling is to live like the locals do. Go out into the street, into cafes, bars and plazas, armed with your phrasebook and ask them where they eat, drink, sleep and dance. They are almost always the cheapest option and the easiest way to get an authentic experience of a country.

Whilst abroad your smartphone is your best friend. Provided you don’t actually make any phone calls from it. For the love of God, don’t do that.

Use it to your advantage. Research, plan and book in advance to your heart’s desire. There are a wealth of apps that can save you money. Couchsurfing, Airbnb, Citymapper, Uber et al. to name but a few.

How to Save Money for Travel: What would we do without our Smartphone?
What would we do without our Smartphone? Photo on Flickr by 626b73 / CC BY 2.0

Lastly, consider writing a travel blog of your experiences. It’s a good way to let your Mum know you’re still alive and having a good time but if you manage it properly, optimise, regularly update and market it correctly, it can make you crazy money.

More on that next time.

Hasta lueguito guachines.

About Marcus Turner Jones

Originally from Sheffield, U.K. I worked in London and Madrid in the finance sector before finally moving to Buenos Aires where I live with my dog Luna and follow my passion as a freelance writer.I travel whenever possible and am particularly interested in Latin American politics and economics.I'll do my best to provide you with as many ways to save $$$ whilst experiencing the wonders this world has to offer and a few other thoughts a long the way.“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S. Thompson

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    […] you’ve worked hard and saved for the trip you started planning some time ago, you know how important it is to stick to your budget, both when […]

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